Petition 81502

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Continuation of Study of Ministry Commission (81502-MH-NonDis-!)

The 2004 General Conference established a four-year commission for the study of ministry, the purpose of which was to theologically discuss and clearly define the ordering of ministry in The United Methodist Church. The Study of Ministry Commission has sought to fulfill its purpose by provoking conversations within the whole church through an exploration of the scriptural, theological, ecclesial, and practical groundings that define our distinct ministries within our common Christian relationship through baptism.
An examination of the results of these conversations within central and annual conferences, boards of ordained ministry, focus groups, gatherings of the orders of deacons and elders, and the fellowships of local pastors has revealed diversity of opinion and conflicting views on the ordering of ministry. The theological foundations and the consequent practices of ministry within The United Methodist Church reflect fundamental differences in the ecclesiologies of our predecessor denominations that are Anglican, Catholic, Reformed, Pietist, and Evangelical in heritage, and these differences have not been adequately addressed through the processes of merger and union.
The need for ongoing study and dialogue has become increasingly apparent in order fully to include in these ministry conversations voices from the central conferences, the ecumenical church, and the cultural and ethnic communities that make up The United Methodist Church.
The four-year life cycle of the commissions that have been established by General Conference to address the unfinished agenda for the ordering of ministry in The United Methodist Church have proven to be insufficient for the completion of a task of such significance. The Commission has prepared a study document on ministry in The United Methodist Church that includes a vision for an ordering of ministry that addresses historical and contemporary issues related to ecclesiology, ordination, and conference membership.
Therefore, the 2008 General Conference affirms the work of the Study of Ministry Commission and refers its report to the church for ongoing study and conversation through the 2009-2012 quadrennium for the purpose of clarifying the vision and building consensus for the ordering of ministry in The United Methodist Church.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, in consultation with the General Board of Discipleship, the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, and the Council of Bishops shall establish a Study of Ministry Commission for the 2009-2012 quadrennium with broad representation from the central conferences, ethnic and cultural constituencies, deacons, elders, local pastors, laity, and the current Study of Ministry Commission. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Board of Discipleship, and the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns shall prepare a study guide for ongoing study and dialogue based on the Commission’s report and recommended vision, which will provide a process that will engage the lay members of the church, the orders of deacons and elders, the fellowships of local pastors, bishops and cabinets, boards of ordained ministry, central conferences, and ethnic constituencies in conversations on the ordering of ministry in The United Methodist Church. The Study on Ministry Commission shall include young adult clergy and United Methodist seminarians as members of that body with voice and vote. The General Conference authorizes the expenditure of $150,000 for the work of this commission.

Rationale

The work of the Study of Ministry Commission needs to continue in order to provide resolution to the many questions concerning the ordering of ministry.